FLUSHING, NY – On the infield at Citi Field Saturday evening before the New York Mets took on the Philadelphia Phillies 20 members of that Amazin’ 1969 World Championship Mets team watched a video about their exploits of 40 years ago. They were the darlings of New York then, and perhaps still are with Mets fans.
Every Mets fans knows this has not been an amazing season, so a little reminiscing and offering appreciation was a welcome addition for fans who were around when that team overcame all obstacles. “The Miracle Mets” as they were known, and two Hall of Fame pitchers Tom Seaver and Nolan Ryan got the loudest ovations in pre game ceremonies.
“Awesome tribute and also important that players of this era see these type of players,” commented Mets manager Jerry Manuel after his team lost another ballgame, 4-1 to the first place Phillies.
That magic of 1969, when it seemed every pitch and hit went their way in the month of August unfortunately would not follow for the August 2009 Mets.
Starter Tim Redding was not expected to throw more than 70 pitches. He is now in the back end of a rotation because Livan Hernandez was released earlier this week. Redding, who was 3-1 against the Phillies in his last seven starts dating back to April 2, 2008, in his five shutout innings of work at one point resembled Gary Gentry, one of those Miracle Mets then who was in the back end of the rotation put together by .anager Gil Hodges.
“I was taxed,” said Redding. “I haven’t thrown more than 50 pitches in a month.” He threw 81 pitches and did his best to keep his team in the ballgame. Redding was lifted and for the second time this season Manuel used seven pitchers in a game.
“Could I have gone one more?” asked Redding. “Probably,” he said, also adding it may or may not have been the right choice. But that has been the story of the 2009 Mets. Decisions with an inconsistent pitching staff, and a make ship lineup that Manuel puts on the field, are more difficult than the ones that Hodges made during that miracle championship season.
Redding, perhaps had a solid and limited outing after talking to Ryan prior to throwing his first pitch. “He said go after them and relax and I did,” commented Redding about his brief talk with Ryan who is the current president of the Texas Rangers. Redding (1-4) did not figure in the decision and would limit the Phillies to 1- hit, striking out four.
Omir Santos extended his hitting streak to five games with an RBI single in the second inning, Angle Pagan went 2-for-4 and Daniel Murphy with a hit extended his hitting streak to eight games. That was the extent of it for the Mets at the plate on an evening of nostalgia that went for another loss.
MORE METS: Outside the press VIP area after the game, Jerry Koosman, an instrumental pitcher during that 1969 season patiently signed autographs for fans. “What made us so good was the chemistry we had and Gil (Hodges) the manager,” he said. Koosman now retired in Osceloa Wisconsin offered his views about the current state of this Mets team and the fans.
“Every team will have their struggles,” he said. “The thing is, we went a season without major injuries and had the guys who could do it, the unexpected. These fans are the best in baseball and they were a part of the championship as much as we were. Look at this 40 years later, and we are still remembered and in time I am sure the same will happen again here…”
Pedro Martinez will be on the mound for Philadelphia Sunday afternoon in the third game of the four game series that concludes Monday afternoon. Martinez makes his third start since being signed by the Phillies opposing (3-3) Oliver Perez of the Mets. It will be interesting to see how the Citi Field fans will react to Pedro pitching in another uniform.
’They’re going to get a chance to see me as a different way, healthier,” said Martinez. The Mets decided to not offer him a contract after sitting out most of last season with Rotator cuff surgery to his pitching arm. After pitching well for the Dominican Republic team in the World Baseball Classic, he hoped to get another contract offer from the Mets that never came.
Does he hold any animosity towards the Mets organization for not giving him a call? “Some teams showed interest after the classic,” he said, “Just didn’t think the Mets wanted to do it and they didn’t. Though Martinez did say that waiting for the Mets to give him a call “cost me half a season” and the biggest motivation to coming back was his health.
“They didn’t feel they could trust how healthy I was and how I was feeling,” said Martinez who will have the awkward feeling of starting against his former team. The last time he faced the Mets, Martinez was with Boston and pitched seven innings and did not figure in the decision on July 13, 2000.
As for his start Sunday Martinez said, “Since I came over to the Phillies I said I would enjoy every single moment in baseball. Someone who respects the game and enjoys what he does.” He hopes the fans can understand this is business and will appreciate what he did during his tenure in New York.
“I enjoyed every moment I was here and have great memories,’ he said. And if Pedro pitches like he did in his debut with the Phillies on August 12th, five innings and getting the win, well Mets fans will have to wonder. Why didn’t he get at least a one-year deal?
e-mail Rich Mancuso: [email protected]